07/21/2009, 00.00
TAIWAN – CHINA
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For the first time since 1949 Taiwan to open office in China

China and Taiwan agree to open tourist offices in each other’s capital to deal with issues generated by growing tourism. In Taiwan ruling party restores Chiang Kai-shek’s name to Memorial Hall.
Beijing (AsiaNews(Agencies) – Taiwanese and Chinese authorities plan to establish semi-official tourism offices in each other's territories to “promote cross-strait tourism and deal with tourist disputes and accidents,” said David Hsieh, deputy director general of Taiwan's Tourism Bureau.

The Taiwan Strait Tourism Association would set up an office in Beijing and the mainland's Cross-Straits Tourism Exchange Association would establish an office in Taipei, Mr Hsieh said.

This would be the first time the two sides have set up offices of any kind in each other's territories since they split in 1949.

With the renewal in cross-strait tourism back in May—including direct flights—the issue of how citizens from either side would be treated came t the fore.

With the establishment of this type of office Beijing is not recognising Taiwanese sovereignty. But any problems mainlanders might encounter will be handled by its office on the island. Taiwan’s office in Beijing will do the same for Taiwanese travelling to the mainland.

Yesterday the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) government restored the name of Chiang Kai-shek to a Taipei hall built in memory of the island's late leader.

The restoration comes 18 months after pro-independence former president Chen Shui-bian replaced the memorial's nameplate with "National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall".

The former president also had the late leader's name removed from Taipei’s international airport, cancelled two public holidays in his honour, and had hundreds of the former leader's statues discarded or dismantled.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) holds Chiang responsible for the 1947 massacre, during which thousands of Taiwanese were killed by KMT troops sent to the island from the mainland to suppress an uprising.

“The Democratic Progressive Party can never tolerate the use of national resources in commemorating a dictator who had slaughtered so many of his own people,” DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said.

In the past the issue provoked heated debates between the KMT and the DPP. When Chiang’s name was actually removed in January 2008 violent protests ensued.

At present Taiwanese seem less interest in Chiang’s legacy and more concerned about the island’s economic crisis and closer relations with the mainland.

Yesterday only a handful of people took part in a protest against the restoration of the old name.

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